91 Days Until The New Year: Time For Action!

This month - we ask what have we achieved together in 2017 so far?  What is stopping you from jumping into AR and VR?  Film makers or game makers, we make the case for action, inspired in no small measure by the excellent presentations at UDEN 16 last month, especially the live AR demo from WildWorks' Pat Carver, of Animal Jam using Apple's ARKit. Don't know any developers?  This is the community to ask! No more excuses!

Welcome to October, and with that, the beautiful colors of fall, the onset of darker evenings and pretty soon, snow will be back!  That's one of the things we love about Utah, we get seasons!  Let's not bemoan the need for a warm jacket, but celebrate and enjoy all that our diverse climate here offers.  It's a pretty good analogy for the entertainment business here too -- it's easy to see how it might be 'better' elsewhere at any given time, but what we have also offers opportunities that, if we like living here, we can make the best of.

Through 2017, UDEN's goal has been to help immerse our community in the world of AR and VR, to see how we might embrace it and find opportunities therein.  We have had some great meetings - not least UDEN #16 a few weeks ago, with over 200 attendees, was our best yet.  However, the take up of the technology is still remarkably low among our film and gaming communities: anecdotally, many are waiting to see what happens with it, or taking the attitude they'll get on board when someone offers them some money to do so.  But this thinking leads to missed opportunity - very much like staying indoors on a cold Utah winter's day, hoping for the return of sunshine. 

Example: How Seattle is becoming a worldwide hub for virtual reality technology developmentIsn't this the kind of headline we, in the entertainment community, want to see for Salt Lake? Or Park City? Or Provo? Somewhere in Utah?  It's not about hardware: the big opportunity is with content: great, innovative, sexy content, because without that, the hardware is just black plastic technology.  We, the creators, have the ability to bring it to life.  

"Stop it!", you might say. "That's not the problem.  We looked into it and we're not drinking the VR cool-aid, we heard it's a tech bubble that is about to burst"

Perhaps you're right. But at the XR Connects conference last month in Helsinki, investor Tipatat Chennavasin said "Don't listen to the analysts, they're reading the data wrong. All the major players in the tech and entertainment industries are investing in VR, AR and AI."  I asked him what he looked for when investing in this 'XR' space -- he replied innovative use of the technology. "Don't make games for VR, make VR games".  Same applies to films or any other content.

But if VR doesn't do it for you, take a good look at AR: it's likely to be a much bigger opportunity and is less mature than VR right now.  Remember that VR and AR are different from one another; VR is a highly immersive technology best suited for very specific types of experiences.  AR, on the other hand, does not require a headset (although smart glasses will be big in 2018) and (as we discussed and WildWorks brilliantly demonstrated at UDEN #16) thanks to Apple's ARKit and Google's ARCore, soon millions of mobile devices globally will be AR enabled*, representing a huge potential audience especially for innovative film and gaming projects. 

* A bit like getting that free U2 album on iTunes -- it just appeared one day -- but this will be so much better! 

Tipatat's TheVRFund maintain some really useful resources for anyone interested in this space such as ecosystem analysis for VR and AR, like this one:

vrfund_ar.JPGWe keep telling one another that we have the technical and creative chops here in Utah -- well, here is our chance -- in 91 days 2018 will be upon us.  What will we be telling ourselves that we, the digital entertainment community, achieved in 2017 to build our ecosystem and improve our future prospects?  No more excuses as to why we can't, we need to embrace what we have and figure out how we can.  If anyone would like help  getting started, or would like to volunteer time or money to the cause, please do get in touch.

November 29th - UDEN #17

We're busy planning the next UDEN. We were thinking it would be our last of the AR/VR deep-dives for this year, but we may have something even more special that we can put together for this, our last event of 2017.  RSVP now and we'll keep you posted as we confirm!  http://utahden.org/uden_17

This will be a terrific opportunity for an organization to sponsor food and drinks for the evening - interested? Please email us [email protected],org for details.

INDUSTRY SURVEY - Can You Spare Us 3 Minutes?

If you already completed our industry survey - many, many thanks!  If you did not, please do so now. We're trying to get a good snapshot of just who we are as the digital entertainment community here in Utah, so we can better understand, plan and advocate.  We're starting with a few simple questions, and over time we'll ask different questions as the picture becomes clearer. 

We want to hear from everyone - groups, clubs, companies, individuals, schools etc.

If you could spare us just 3 minutes of your time to respond, it will be a huge help and another important step along the path to building a thriving community for the creators of content and technology in digital entertainment!  (Hey! That's us!).  We'll update you with the results.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!  Click here to give us your responses.


October 10 - 24th - Aurora Awards Fall Competition Deadlines

Utah-based international film awards company announces their 31st Competition’s Call for Entries for works by film and video creators. This is your chance to receive feedback of your creative efforts and be recognized for excellence. Don’t miss it!

Regular Deadline October 10, 2017, Final Deadline October 24, 2017

See https://www.AuroraAwards.com for categories and more details

October 20 - 22nd - Utah Indie Game Jam 2017

The fifth annual Utah Indie Game Jam will be held at the Business Resource Center of Utah Valley University. Check in time is from 6-7 pm with  opening ceremonies and theme announcement starting right at 7 pm. This is a 48-hour game jam so we'll be going until about 8 pm on Sunday the 9th. This is a competitive game jam, but a spirit of community and sportsmanship is encouraged. This is a chance to make what you want and to polish your skills and take them to the next level.

To sign up for the event, go to http://itch.io/jam/utah-indie-game-jam-2017 and click the "Join Jam" link. 

October Workshops & Events for Entrepreneurs - Salt Lake SBDC

This month's topics include dealing with the IRS, Utah grant and angel money for startups, cash flow management and IP; more at the SBDC events page here: https://utahsbdc.org/center/salt-lake-city/events-trainings

Most Days in October - FREE FILMS!

Call Me Dad, Unrest, Icarus, The Sound of Silents, Dying in Vein, 4 Days in France and many more -- almost every day this month you can find terrific, engaging independent film showtimes all across the state! The wonderful Utah Film Center maintain a great list here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/UtahFilmCenter/events/

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays – Entrepreneur Launch Pad

The Entrepreneur Launch Pad (ELP) helps startups and small businesses on the Wasatch front. Free mentoring, education, resources for growth. These meetings in Sandy, Kaysville, and Orem.  More info here:


 - GamesIndustry.biz maintain a comprehensive list of upcoming events for the gaming industry, here: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/network/events

FILM - Our partners at the Utah Film Commission have an events calendar, here: https://film.utah.gov/event-calendar/

You can find an interesting, wide variety of tech-related events at our good friends Silicon Slopes' events page here: https://nvite.com/community/siliconslopes

- The VR/AR Association maintain a growing list of events relevant for those involved in the creation of VR and AR, here: http://www.thevrara.com/events/

- the Utah Games Guild maintain a calendar of local events here: https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=v468q15oiiqtdu7dmfcs5l9ui8%40group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/Denver


Finally, if you have an upcoming event you would like to share with UDEN members, you can add it to our website for FREE here: http://utahden.org/upevents

Our thanks, as always, for your support!

     - Jon Dean

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